Business

Kinder Morgan raises outlook as profit surges on winter storm demand

Kinder Morgan (KMI.N) on Wednesday posted a quarterly profit that breezed past estimates, helping the U.S. pipeline operator raise its annual earnings forecast, on a demand surge for natural gas and electricity during the February winter storm.

The company’s shares rose 2.7% in extended trading.

A deep freeze that swept parts of the United States last quarter knocked out nearly half of Texas power plants and sent prices for natural gas and electricity to record levels.

Kinder Morgan benefited from the shortage as it released gas and sold electricity at prices that were hundreds of times higher than normal for several days.

“Our previous investments in our assets, particularly on our gas storage assets, were a huge help. We were on maximum withdrawal for days at several of our fields,” Chief Executive Officer Steven Kean said on a post-earnings call.

Though natural gas transport volumes were down 3% overall amid the lingering impact on demand from the COVID-19 pandemic, Kinder Morgan’s natural gas pipelines unit still saw adjusted income grow by almost 80%.

The company also benefited by cutting production and electricity usage at a unit that produces oil and industrial carbon dioxide, its heaviest power-consuming business in Texas.

That unit’s power contract allowed for it to be compensated for lower usage at the prevailing market price, which had shot up to as much as $9,000 per megawatt-hour, Kean said.

The first-quarter performance helped Kinder Morgan raise its full-year net income forecast to as much as $2.9 billion, from a $2.1 billion expectation outlined at the end of the fourth quarter.

Excluding items, the company earned 60 cents per share, well above estimates of 24 cents, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Kinder Morgan also raised its dividend by 3% to $1.08 per share for 2021.

Revenue also rose sequentially to $5.21 billion, above analysts’ average estimate of $3.03 billion.